Social Connection When you Live Rurally!

Social Connection When you Live Rurally

Self-care for seniors (what was once called ‘taking good care of yourself’) is increasingly being encouraged as a vital component to living a longer, healthier, happier life. A key aspect of senior self-care is ‘staying connected.’ Making time to socialise with family, friends, and your community in general, improves and maintains both mental and physical health.

Jump onto the net to check out the various ways seniors can stay socially connected, and you soon find they are numerous. You can join a club, volunteer for a good cause, head to the movies with friends, stay fit and active with a walking group, and attend lectures specially geared for an older audience (and that’s just for starters).

However, for those who live rurally, it doesn’t take long to realise many, if not all of these proposed activities are beyond reach, especially if you live outside (rather than in) a rural settlement, and even more so if you no longer drive. Given around a quarter of all Kiwis aged 65 and over live in rural communities, it’s a concerning issue, and one we think deserves your attention, regardless of where you live. That’s why we’ve put together the following tips on how rural seniors can stay socially connected, and how urban seniors can help them do it:

Create a happening

Don’t wait for the world to come to you – create a happening in your own home by hosting a weekly gathering. Invite those who are a short drive away, and encourage car-pooling to help non-drivers attend. Gathering themes can be anything from craft nights, card evenings, coffee and cake morning teas (everyone can take a turn at providing the eats), or movie afternoons.

Club together

With the internet at our fingertips, a teacher (in any subject) is just a click away. Which means you can organise your own club.   Gather together (even if there’s only 3 or 4 of you), and use YouTube to bone up on activities you can try out together. Test drive everything from taking the perfect photo to creating your first watercolour. You’ll have a ball!

Going solo

You can live rurally and still be a volunteer who connects with others. Check out Hato Hone St John caring caller to find out how you can be a phone companion for someone who is in need of a regular person to chat to (they could be anywhere in the country). If you have internet access, consider becoming an online volunteer language teacher. Often, all that’s required of you is spending time in conversation with an English language learner.

Be available!

Rural folk have always managed by helping each other out – and this is still the case, today. Your nearest neighbour may live several kilometres away, but even if you don’t drive, you can still be there for them. Whether it’s by offering to baby sit, sharing vegetables from your garden, giving music lessons, or helping a school student with homework, put the word out you’re available!

Host helping hands

Our country is filled with young (and older) travellers who value the opportunity to help out with chores in exchange for an opportunity to see something of real rural life. From WWOOFers to HelpXers, company is just an email away (note: always discuss your intentions with a friend or family member, first.)

Home swap

We all know someone who lives rurally, or in an urban setting. When accommodation is costly, why not arrange a home-swap with them so you can enjoy each other’s space. Those who live rurally can spend a week catching up with galleries, movies, and city friends, while the urbanites can enjoy the serenity of the countryside.

Reach out

If you have a home in the ’burbs why not reach out to a rural friend to see if they would like a bed for the night so they can attend a monthly club meeting without having to drive all the way home after dark?


Keeping socially connected is possible, wherever we live, and when we help each other out, it becomes even more of a reality.